Looking back the bygone days and years when the idea of having a cultural and literature society, was conceived in my mind to establish a society to foster and promote our dying culture, literature and traditions of our forefathers of bygone era, i vividly remember the near insurmountable obstacles and problems i faced in establishing this society, today it is very nostalgic moment for me personally and for others too. This Cultural-cum-Literature Society which saw the light of day and therefore, it was registered on the 23rd, April, 1998 at Delhi by the name of Zou Cultural-cum-Literature Society Delhi with the main object of developing Zo/Zou literature and language and also other tribal languages. It has been now, rechristened as Zo Cultural-cum-Literature Society India recently with a broader perspective of covering larger areas and scope. The Zo/Zou tribe is recognized as a scheduled tribe in 1956 by Government of India. The total population of Zou/Zo tribe in India is 20,526 as per Census 2001, and in Myanmar(Burma) Zo/Zou population is estimated to be 61,000 as per some linguistic websites since the Myanmar census is not available with us maybe even more than this figure. They are believed to be descended from Zo great progenitor known as Zo i.e Pu Zo.
As a human being and as a member of Zo/Zou society, i had early passion to study and develop the tribal languages. Keeping in mind those childhood dreams, i have done my M.A(Linguistics) from Annamalai University in my own sweet time and choosing. Often, some sections of my own society misunderstood me for taking slightly different paths, they have been quite apprehensive about my activities and works which, of course, at times appears to be quite unconventional and non-confirmist as per their world view. But the fact of, the matter is that the language of a particular community or tribe actually, does not belong to one specific or particular registered organization or society etc, on the contrary, it actually, belongs to the speaker(s) or the speech community. I have come through specialization in the area of linguistic, therefore, my learning and knowledge has been channelized through proper channel for the sake of our dying culture and language.
Every generations keeps on changing, so do language evolves and it keeps on changing, to keep up with the changing times, so do we also need to fit our language as per modern times, we cannot remain static forever, renowned anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor in his work Primitive Culture(1871 A.D) defined Culture as "that complex whole that includes knowledge, art, morals, custom and any other capacity and habit as acquired by man as a member of a society". We know that culture is dynamic so also, language is dynamic not static, it keeps on changing as per need, in order to preserve and keep up the changing trends, we have to invent rather adapt to new ways of writings i.e orthography by adopting linguistic techniques and trends of modern times. In every society changes do occur, but it takes time to change, but changes do actually happen whether one like it or not. Some fear changes, some oppose changes, some deny changes, some deliberately see no changes, some see changes but refuse to accept, but the fact of the matter is that CHANGES do occur in our societies in respect of culture, traditions and language. Some dare it some don't.
Still, i dare to tread a path which others would fear to tread, for i have a firm belief that someday my dreams would come true when sooner or later people will realize the logic and benefits of adopting new ways of thinking and doing things and above all, a will to dare and Change things which seem impossible to change, learn things which seem unthinkable to think, accept the facts which seems impossible to accept now.
Holding a language in a tight compartment sort of thing is not going to preserve, propagate, develop and disseminate it, rather it is going to stifle its growth and development. Our feudal mindsets and mentalities have to undergo changes in order to move forward in our goal of achieving cultural and linguistic uniformity and unity.
Every language or speech should be given the freedom to breathe fragrant air, they are like multitudes of beautiful flowers in a beautiful garden of societies. Every flower should be nurtured to give good seeds to bring sweetness to the societies.
We do not possess great cultural heritage and great traditions like the ancient Egyptians or Indus people or Chinese people or mainstream fellow Indians, yet with the little cultural heritage and traditions we do possess we could move forward, develop, document and preserve whatever valuable facets of our cultural heritage and traditions. Language being the most important factor of cultural preservations, therefore, this society came to existence a decade back in this very capital of India.
In its long journey for the past 10 years, the society could not do much for want of funds and support. However, it was able to bring out a number of important publications in a special manner it is befitting to mention the first and foremost publication of our poetic/song language which is called 'Dictionary of Zo poetic words, metaphors and similes Vol.I(Zo lahâmtengte, Kigêntênate leh Kitêkâhnate Hâmbu Bu khatna) which is about our forefathers poetic language which are employed in our folksongs and in modern songs. Other publications brought out by the society are Tapidaw Late(Katholik zailate leh Mass lamzuina), A brief biography of Sub. Peter Thangkhokam, Ka hinkhuo tomkim, Ka Katekizam Masapên, Leitung Satna, My Brief Memoirs of ZSP and ZOD, Zou Grammar and Composition(Zou Hamzahdan). The society also brought out a number of editions of a magazine called Zotongdam which is a linguistic magazine published quarterly from 2005. There are few more books to be published in future if funds permit.
We are very grateful to Shri. Udayanarayan Singh the worthy Director of Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore for his kindness and thoughtfulness for having given support and grant to this Workshop on Glossary of Zo Cultural Vocabularies which is perhaps, the first ever of its kind for N.E India language and perhaps, India as a whole, if i am not mistaken.
It is also our privilege to have in our midst Dr. Rangaswamaiah Subbakrisnaji of CIIL, Mysore who will be our Co-ordinator for the Workshop. And it is mainly through his suggestions and kind intervention that we are able to get sponsorship of CIIL, Mysore hold such unique workshop for the first time in our history that too, in the heart of India's capital; New Delhi. We are extremely grateful to Dr. Rangaswamaiah Subbakrisnaji for his generosity and kindness to make this workshop see its light of day. Also, we are thankful for his thoughtfulness and his consent to be our Co-ordinator of the workshop for the coming days ahead of us.
We are very grateful to all those who come here for having spared their precious time and labour to grace this function as audience and as participants of this workshop
Once again, I on behalf of the gatherings and the society, in a special manner thank you, Dr. Udayanarayana Singh, Director CIIL, Mysore, Dr. Rangaswamaiah Subbakrisna and Prof. Panditji for gracing this inaugural session of work and celebrate the Decade old existence of ZOCULSIN, and also to commemorate the International Year of Languages 2008.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank one and all for your co-operation and care.